Jaylon Johnson

Jaylon Johnson focused on Bears winning, not contract extension

Johnson was feeling the pressure of pending contract negotiations, but his thinking has changed since the end of the 2022 season

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It sounds like Jaylon Johnson’s thinking about a potential contract extension may be changing as the cornerback reports to the Bears’ optional OTA program. Just after the 2022 regular season ended, Jaylon Johnson told NBC Sports Chicago that he wanted a new contract to stick with the Bears at some point this year. He expected those extension negotiations to “heat up” at some point over the summer.

Now it sounds like Johnson is happy to go to work and let the money take care of itself. The Bears star cornerback shared more about his headspace heading into the final year of his contract with ESPN’s Key, Jay & Max last week.

“Honestly, for me, it used to be a lot of pressure,” Johnson said on ESPN Radio. “I would even say for me going into my third year, I felt like that was the year for me to put myself out there to be able to have a new contract, to be able to re-up.”

Johnson was as dominant as ever last season, to the point that there were several games where opposing QBs didn’t throw the ball his way at all. But in Matt Eberflus’ and Alan Williams’ defense, takeaways are king and Johnson has never been known as a ballhawk. In three seasons Johnson only has one interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Of course, Johnson has had fewer opportunities to come down with the ball since QBs rarely look his way. Improvements in the Bears secondary could lead to quarterbacks challenging Johnson more often, however. The Bears will want to see if Johnson can increase his ball production before offering him a huge contract.

“For me, it’s just about going out and being who I am,” Johnson said. “I know I can be a dominant corner. I am a dominant corner in this league, following No. 1 wide receivers and just finding ways to continue to do my job at a high rate, continue to be a better teammate, continue to find ways to win.

“With winning comes paychecks, and I think at the end of the day, I need to focus on winning. That’s what I’m worried about going into Year 4.”

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